The Formative Years (1981-1999)
Livingston Cricket Club was founded in 1981 by Dr Salem Patel and Doug Druce, playing its first match in August of that year in Armadale. Against Atlas Steelworks we were so bad that despite getting a second innings we still couldn’t manage more than 30 runs.
From that inauspicious start the club joined the East League for the 1982 season, winning Grade D and promotion despite, or perhaps because of, home matches played at Deans High School on some very dodgy wickets that often resulted in low scoring games.
On the left is an early Livingston Cricket Club team photo. The observant amongst you will just be able to make out a glimpse of a very youthful (but still bespectacled!) Jim Wilson at the extreme left on the back row.
In 1983, the season that saw Ronnie Dumma score the clubs first century, the club came second to Kirkcaldy’s 2nd XI in Grade C which was enough to win election to Division 4 following league reconstruction. Home games that season were played at Bankton Mains in Murieston. The changing facilities were a wooden Wimpey hut which was eventually flame-grilled by local vandals at the second attempt
On the right is a shot of Livingston CC batting in the early 80's at Leith Links. For those of you not sure if you believe the weather now is no worse than 20 years ago... Well just have a look at how brown the outfield is!!
With no changing facilities for 1984 all matches had to played away from home while renovations took place at Bangour Hospital sports field to enable cricket to be played there for the first time since the 1950’s.
The club moved into Bangour at the start of season 1985 and remained there until the end of the 1998 season. Despite the occasional incursion from wandering patients (often difficult to distinguish from the players), Bangour was a smallish ground in a lovely setting with the pavilion situated on top of banking which ran almost half half-way round the ground. The colourful display of rhododendrons in June was often matched by the language of the players retrieving balls from the many sixes hit into the dense undergrowth!
By 1985 the increasing number of players enabled the club to start a 2nd X1 which joined Grade D of the East League. Meanwhile, despite coming close on a couple of occasions, the 1st X1 remained in Division 4 until winning the league in 1992. It was often said we had the strongest team on paper in the league during this period but unfortunately having to play on grass was our downfall. In contrast our stay in Division 3 in 1993 was the briefest possible with the league programme being negotiated with an unbeaten record.
In 1994 sponsorship by the Livingston Development Corporation enabled the club to successfully negotiate the big step up to Division 2 where half of the clubs employed paid players. West Indian Mark Harper became the club’s first paid player and regularly set new batting records throughout the season.
The creation of the National leagues in 1996 and the subsequent re-organisation of feeder leagues saw Livingston become a Division 1 club due to reconstruction of the East League. In 1999 we finished third, our highest league position to date. This coincided with a move back in to Livingston to a large new ground in the Murieston area. Temporary pavilion facilities and the recent run of wet summers added to the fact that the ground is over 500ft above sea level meant that Dresselrigg would take a few years to realise its full potential. Being almost in the foothills of the Pentlands, rainfall is heavier and the growing season considerably shorter than most of the other grounds in the Central Belt which causes major problems in getting the ground ready for play in April.
The New Millenium
In the autumn of 2000, the club was rocked by the sudden and tragic death of Gerry Toms. Gerry, along with Jim Wilson was one of the mainstays of the club and was responsible for obtaining the land at Murieston for the new ground. His commitment to the club was tremendous and with Jim in tow, they ensured the club not only survived but prospered. On the field Gerry's record speaks for itsself. Over 10,000 career runs, including 15 centuries as well as over 250 wickets and over 200 catches in a career that spanned over 18 seasons. His good pal Jim Wilson (pictured right, in his favourite pastime.. groundman!), has played for the club for its entire existence. A veteran of the first game against Atlas in 1981, Jim is still going strong and in 2014 captured his 1,000 club wicket.
During the period May 2002 to August 2004 a concerted effort was made to source funding and construct a permanent pavilion. The full story can be found in the Gerry Toms Pavilion Project story on this site. The successful completion of this project provided the club with a base to grow in the community. Having a heated all year round building with a friendly bar encouraged a considerable number of local residents to join as social members, and to this day we still have a popular social scene. The club sourced covers and sightscreens and improved the drainage of the clay to the ground finally providing excellent facilities for a cricket game.
On the field the club grew too, with an influx of new players allowing the club to field two strong XIs which saw the 2nd XI rise from Div 9 to Div 7 in successive seasons breaking multiple club records on the way. The 1st XI continued to play in Division 1 and in 2006 won the inaugural ESCA Presidents Trophy when a 2nd wicket stand of 185 between Ryan Hunter and Iain Murdoch saw off Haddington in a rather one sided final. This however would be the high point for LCC, as a series of player retirements saw the playing standard decline and in 2007, our enviable record of NEVER having been relegated was sadly lost with relegation to Division 2. Between 2008 and 2012 the club yo-yo'd from Divisions 2 to 3 but haven't managed to get back to the heights of Division 1. In contrast those seasons saw the second XI climb from Division 7 to their highest ever position of Division 5.
In 2004, under the guiding hands of Richard Wilcock, the Kingfishers started a Junior programme. This has been one of the most significant events to happen to the club and the first step to ensuring the long term future and progression of the club. Whilst both Ayaz Gul and Craig Toms made age level international recognition prior to Richard's good work, since then there has been a conveyor belt of representative recognition by juniors coached by Richard culminating in international honours for Tom Hilton. Following his recognition, Tom decided to leave the club to play elsewhere leaving LCC still wondering how to stop the drain of talent to other clubs that has seen them lose too many talented players already.
To try to counter this LCC took the leading role in the setting up of cricketWestLothian development group in conjunction with Fauldhouse Victoria and to a lesser extent West Lothian CC, through which there now is a Community Cricket Coach that is taking an active role in particiption of cricket at the clubs and in the local schools. This should lead to an increase in the numbers of juniors coming to and hopefully staying at the club.
The harsh winters and summers of 2010 onwards, successive 'hurricanes' destroyed the covers, nets and the sightscreens and the tumultuous rainfall (10 consecutive months from April 2012 of over 100mm per month) left Dresselrigg looking worse for wear. A huge winter project over 2012/2013 to overhaul the drainage to cope with such volumes was undertaken to make the ground as playable as often as possible. Time and only time will tell if its worked.